Filament Settings

What printing materials do we use for 3D printing models?
We use four types of materials:

PLA (recommended)
• Rigid (can withstand higher forces)
• Minimal shrinkage
• Easy to 3D print
• Easy to bond with CA glue
• Lower glass transition temperature
Standard PLA is the most commonly used and suggested material for printing 3DLabPrint planes. Unless specified otherwise, our planes are designed and tested using standard PLA filament. If you’re new to 3D printing RC planes, it’s recommended to start with standard PLA that has a consistent diameter. This will provide a baseline for comparison when experimenting with other materials.
To ensure strong layer adhesion, we use a higher-than-usual temperature (typically 230°C) and avoid cooling during printing. It’s important to note that PLA softens at temperatures above 50°C, which is its glass transition temperature. For adequate adhesion to the heated bed, a temperature of 50-60°C is used. Exceeding this range can result in warping of the bottom part due to its weight.
Darker-colored PLA filaments tend to warp when exposed to direct sunlight, as the surface temperature rises quickly. To prevent this, it is advisable to use bright, single-wavelength colors such as yellow, orange, lime-green, etc.
Avoid leaving printed planes in a car on hot summer days, as the temperature inside the car can easily surpass 50°C.

LPLA (Lightweight PLA)
• Half the weight of standard PLA
• Minimal shrinkage
• Easy to 3D print
• Controlled foaming
• Easy to clean and sand imperfections
• Easy to bond with CA glue
• It is easy to cut and sand.
• Less rigid than PLA – can be adjusted with extrusion multiplier and temperature
This innovative material utilizes active foaming technology, meaning it expands in volume during printing. The degree of foaming increases with higher temperatures. This unique feature allows us to use half the extrusion multiplier while maintaining the same wall width, resulting in a weight reduction of 50%. LW-Planes are specifically designed to be printed using this material.
By adjusting the extrusion multiplier and temperature, we can control the stiffness of the printed part. Keeping the extrusion multiplier at 1 produces strong walls, but the internal structure may be more visible on the outer shell. Typically, we use a 0.5 multiplier at 230°C to achieve the same wall thickness as standard PLA parts while reducing weight.
Due to the foaming nature of the material within the nozzle, it tends to ooze faster than standard PLA. Increasing retraction settings may lead to clogs, so we have chosen to disable retractions altogether. This results in a slightly rough internal structure, but it is purely cosmetic and contributes to the lightweight nature of the print.
The resulting parts are less rigid, so it is not recommended to use this material for the entire plane. However, it is highly suitable for printing less stressed components to reduce the overall weight of the aircraft. Tail parts, wing-tips, control surfaces, hatches, scale accessories, etc., can be effectively printed with LW-PLA.
The material is directly distributed by ColorFabb. Although it may appear to have a higher price tag, the fact that only half the material is required compared to other filaments makes it equally cost-effective.

• Higher glass transition temperature compared to PLA
• Less brittle
• Lower tensile strength (more flexible)
• Difficult to glue
• Challenging to 3D print due to oozing
• Higher shrinking rate
While PETG-printed planes may initially appear less brittle, they have weaker glue joints and lower tensile strength, making them more susceptible to mid-flight failures under higher G-forces. It is advised to use this material only if you have experience and knowledge in handling it. PETG is not recommended for beginners.
However, PETG can be a suitable material for printing certain components such as motor mounts, wheel discs, and even springs. It is important to ensure good layer adhesion when printing with PETG. This material is not recommended for parts that rely on glue to hold them together.

• Lower density, resulting in reduced overall weight
• Higher glass transition temperature
• Difficult to 3D print
• High shrinking rate
• Requires an enclosed printing environment with controlled temperature
• Potential emission of hazardous fumes during printing
Printing thin walls using ABS can be challenging, as it necessitates an enclosed printing setup with precise control over the ambient temperature. Any airflow or draft can cause the layers to separate and warp.
ABS printing is recommended exclusively for experienced modelers who possess the necessary equipment, including enclosed and properly ventilated printers.

• Half the weight compared to regular TPU
• Easier printing
• Good adhesion to the print bed, no need for additional adhesion aids
• Limited availability (currently offered only by ColorFab)